Challenging Beliefs, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Romantic Relationships

Is it Me? Do I Need to Change?

Hi Leanne,

Last night my brother sat me down and gave me a long list of the faults that he saw in me and now I have no idea what to do with it all. I feel like he read me like a book, being my brother he knows me inside out so he hit on some pretty big home truths.

He said if I didn’t change then he was done with me, that he has reached the end of his patience.

His list was long; I try to be a good person but I know I have a lot of demons and I don’t even know where to begin.

I have my own a family and a partner I love, a job that I’m good at and close friends who I also want to keep happy. 

I’m feeling really hurt and confused but also pretty helpless as I want to fix this but I don’t know how to or if I even should try. I really love my brother and want to do what I can. Where do I start?

Regards,

E.W

Hi E.W,

The reason you don’t know where to start is because this isn’t your journey. Your intuition can’t guide you in this situation because your intuition disagrees with the entire premise that there is anything wrong with you.

The negatives that your brother is seeing in you are his discomforts, they are about him. The uncomfortable feelings that you are experiencing from receiving his message however is all about you. (I’ll explain this part a little later on with an analogy about scruffy hair.)

Now I wouldn’t recommend confronting him about the mechanisms behind why he is striking out simply because it may just add fuel to his fire rather than help. What you need to know is that all he is attempting to do by having this conversation with you is to feel better. The way he has gone about it though clearly needs some work, but ultimately this is his journey. The one thing that you can do which may help him to feel better in the interim is just to listen and be open to hearing what he has to say.

This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with him, or that you have to commit to making any changes. Just listen to him and let him know that you’ve heard him by repeating his concerns back to him. Ask him to clarify anything that you don’t understand and then let him know that you appreciate that he has been able to share this with you and that you’ll have a good think about it.

And this will be the truth, because from the tone in your letter I’m guessing that this is all that you have been thinking about. So this is where I come in, my wish is to help you move past this E.W.

Firstly I want you to understand that the qualities that your brother is seeing in you which are causing him so much discomfort are the qualities that he doesn’t love about himself. The really interesting part is they are also the things that you are unsure about within yourself too. So by attempting to soothe him, the process will bring comfort to your own insecurities as well.

What is going on here is you are a mirror to all that your brother is struggling with. And here’s the thing, if you changed for him as he has asked you to do, and stopped reflecting what he doesn’t like; then he’d go and find another mirror which is identical to what you are reflecting to him now.

He is looking for answers and help to soothe the way he feels about the aspects of himself that he doesn’t like. He wants to find someone with the same “faults” as him who isn’t being hurt by them; he is looking for someone who is using these “faults” to their advantage so that he can follow the same path for himself. He is searching for the answer to the question,

“How do I feel better about myself?”

The “faults” that he has chosen to address in you are things that you don’t love about yourself either. That’s where so much of your pain comes from; it feels like he is telling the truth because you’ve had those same thoughts about yourself too. But it’s not the truth.

The truth never hurts, the truth always feels good. Other people’s truth about us hurt, never our own.

Blog Quote - The truth never hurts

There are probably other “faults” that he’s raised in your lifetime together but you are so disconnected to them that they didn’t hurt so you didn’t pick them up.

Let’s say you’ve got really short hair and your brother who has long unkempt hair said, “I hate the way your hair is so messy and untidy all of the time. You don’t take any pride in the way you present your long hair. It’s embarrassing”.

It’s doubtful that you would take that criticism on board or be hurt by it because it’s not something that you have said to yourself. It’s not an insecurity that you carry because you are so confident in your belief about yourself that you don’t have long hair. It is much easier to pick at a scab that is already there than cut a new wound.

You love your brother because of all you know him to be. You love him because you choose to look past the things about him that he would deem to be “faults”. Now it’s time to do the same thing for you. If you can look past your own “demons” and faults” to love yourself the way you love him; then you’ll show him how to do the same thing for himself as well as heal your wound.

Loving himself is the ONLY thing that is going to give him any relief. There is never a time when we are thriving, feeling awesome and kicking goals in all aspects of our life when we bother to stop and notice the flaws and shortcomings of those we love. Never.

Thriving & Flaws

Sure you can take on board his suggestions if they are things that make sense to you as areas that you wish to grow and improve in. But there is nothing you need to ‘fix’ about yourself because you are not broken. How could you possibly know just how amazing you are in certain moments if you didn’t equally know yourself as not-amazing in those same moments?

You will never be perfect and the great news is you don’t have to be. You will continue to change, develop, improve and grow. But you will also continue to stumble, yearn for more and find the need to try again.

Your brother is seeking your help so that he can stop feeling the way that he does about himself. Not consciously, but deep down he has chosen you because he thinks that you are capable enough to help him. In a really messed-up way he is saying that he believes in you.

It is twisted but the only reason he has struck out at you is because he’s desperate for relief. He’s not a bad person; he just didn’t know what else to do. He really wanted your attention on this and it worked, he got your full attention.

There are positives and negatives to every situation. You simply can’t have one without the other. There are people who have said that prison was the best thing that ever happened to them and there are people who’ve said that winning the lottery was the worse.

So start looking for the positives in all of the “faults” that your brother has pointed out to you. You know what the negatives of those traits has been for you, but what were the positives every time you “let him down”?

And they will be there; if you look hard enough the positives are always there.

Let’s say you didn’t pick him up from the airport when you said you were going to for example. He then felt really let down and like he didn’t matter to you. A benefit may be that next time he’ll make more of an effort to let people know how important things are to him; so you’ve helped him become a better communicator.

There will be many silver linings; I’d say that you could find at least 10 once you start looking for them.

In the meantime saying this affirmation every morning and night is really going to soothe you and diminish the hurt that his words have brought which are spinning around in your head.

“I release the hurt that I’ve been carrying because I know that my brother is struggling right now and his intention is to feel better. The most important thing I can focus upon is how I feel about me rather than the opinions of others about me.

I send him love and I chose to focus on the wonderful aspects of both him and myself. I release myself from the burden of taking responsibility for how my brother is feeling, his emotions and his feelings are his concern.

When negative thoughts about myself pop up I’m going to put my attention to how those perceived negatives aspects of myself have benefited someone in my life.

I’m a good person, I am doing my best and that is more than enough.

Everyday I become wiser, stronger, more open and more loving. I have nothing to protect myself from and nothing to be confused about because I’m clear that mine is the only opinion that matters.

I’m going to follow the path that feels good to me, and if it feels good to me then I know it is my truth and it is going to best serve the people I love.”

And E.W, every time you see your brother you can think quietly to yourself “I don’t have long hair brother, you do. And I love you no matter how scruffy it gets.”

You deserve all the happiness, love and joy in the world. And I’m sending you a big cyber hug right now.

Lots and lots of Love

Leanne Evelyn-Charles xx

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Friendships, Relationships

The 3 Beautiful Lessons that I Learnt About My Beliefs from Picking Zucchini

Before the beginning of my final year at university I spent the summer picking fruit up north in a little town near the state border of Queensland and New South Wales called Stanthorpe.

The lovely little town Queensland town of Stanthorpe, home of the Apple & Grape Festival.

The lovely little Queensland town of Stanthorpe, home of the Apple & Grape Festival.

After some difficultly finding jobs, my girlfriend Michelle and I finally got work picking zucchini’s at a local farm. To get our jobs we had to convince and then promise the farms owners, a husband and wife team, that we were reliable and that we wouldn’t quit. We were told that the work was back breaking that they’d had a gut full of employees letting them down by quitting within the first week.

By the end of our first day I knew what they were referring to, I could barely stand up I was aching that much. But as we soon realised, there were other reasons that they had such a low retention of staff. Away from his wife, the husband’s behaviour was horrendous.

We were very young and his sexual attentions were very unwanted and they were constant. At one point he gathered the male employees together to watch us bending over picking zucchini’s and declared,

 “We should make them wear uniforms hey boys? Short skirts with no underwear.”

Our local pub which we conveniently lived 400m from. We were so broke that we couldn't afford to drink the $1.50 wines all night. So we would buy one and then refill our glass from a bladder of goon that we had stashed under the bushes near the back car park. #yeahIamabogan

Our local pub which we conveniently lived 400m from. We were so broke that we couldn’t afford to drink the $1.50 wines all night. So we would buy one and then refill our glass from a bladder of goon that we had stashed under the bushes near the back car park. #yeahIamabogan

I’m pleased to say that he was on his own, the ‘boys’ found him to be just as abhorrent as we did. We had no idea how to deal with something like this, we just tried to ignore it and hoped that it would go away, it didn’t.

After 6 days working there we had a day off. We travelled to visit a friend’s place that was on the other side of the border. On our way back we stopped and had a drink at a pub and we talked about our predicament.

For Michelle it was an easy decision, we couldn’t go back to work there, we’d find somewhere else to work. For me it was a massive struggle.

Firstly there was my fear about getting another job. We were living in a one-bedroom cottage with 8 other people; our combined weekly budget after we paid our $10 a week for rent was $50. Things were tight; between us we were down to our last $20.

Our beds on the lounge room floor of the 1 bedroom house that we shared with 8 other people.

Michelle demonstrating our comfortable beds on the lounge room floor of the 1 bedroom house that we shared with 8 other people. The only couple of the house got the bedroom and the bed frame above is missing a mattress because the guy sleeping on it vomited on it the night before.

But the even bigger reasons for my struggles were the beliefs that I held to be true of myself,

 “I can’t call home for money and admit that I’d failed at this, I’ve never failed.”

 “I’m not a quitter, I’ve never quit anything in my life.”

 “I promised them, my word is my bond. I’ve never gone back on my word.”

No doubt there were plenty of times that I’d failed, quit and went back on my word in my young life. But the way I would have justified it in my mind was by never declaring that I was ‘trying’ in the first place.

Unknowingly or not the ‘Farmer’ had tapped right into some of my most tightly held beliefs. I had made the commitment not to quit, I promised them I wouldn’t let them down, and I gave them my word that they could trust me.

These beliefs were further exacerbated in me by them also being tightly held by my family. Going back generations our family culture has been very clear about who we are and who we are not. We are ‘not quitters’, ‘we don’t let people down’, and ‘we don’t break our word’.

I still believe the attributes of determination and resilience to be fantastic ones, but that day at the pub on the border with Michelle planted a seed that changed me. Until that conversation it had never occurred to me to ask the question,

“To what end?”

What was I hoping to achieve by sticking it out at a job that was providing me some of the most uncomfortable and confidence crushing moments of my young life? I had failed to look at the context in which I was displaying these character traits that had always served me so well in the past.

At the pub Michelle told me that her father had always given her the advice,

“If it isn’t making you happy then change it, do something else.”

My struggle came about because I couldn’t see how her family’s beliefs could possibly align with my own. I saw her father’s advice as flakey. I remember thinking to myself that it all sounded too easy, what if everyone just went about and did what made them happy?

What if everyone did what made them happy? Good question isn’t it?

It was at that moment that I also realised I held a pretty strong belief that struggle was good. When I looked at why I thought that, it was because in my world struggle meant hard work, dedication and determination; and to me that always led to success. That belief had always been true for me whilst studying or on the sports field; but there was no ‘success’ to be had in this context.

At that pub I was gushing with tears. ‘Where I wanted to be’ was happy and safe, and ‘where I was’ was trying to hold myself in an environment that was making me miserable and unsafe. My two wants were in direction opposition which caused me a heavy internal conflict, my head was saying ‘stay’ and my heart was saying ‘go’.

After our drink we left the pub and we crossed back over the border, which became a metaphoric precipice for me. We quit our jobs the next morning and picked up work at another farm sorting green beans on a conveyor belt.

The conveyor belt. I often recited the entire script for Pulp Fiction whilst sorting the beans...it was the 90's.

The conveyor belt. I learnt to recited the entire script from Pulp Fiction whilst sorting the beans to break up the tedium. It was the summer of 1996 and I freakin loved that movie.

The work was much easier, we were paid more, and I loved every minute of it. The people we worked with, including our new bosses were some of the best people I have ever met in my life. They were impressed and appreciative of the hardworking, determined attributes that we demonstrated. I look back on our golden summer in that little town as one of the happiest times of my life.

Left: Me  Middle: Our beautiful new employers, Kim & Peter Slater Right: The most awesome picking buddy a girl could have, Michelle.

Left: I dyed my brunette hair blond myself after being warned by a hairdresser not to. She was right about it not turning out well. My hair was orange for a week and then after a couple of attempts I got it to a lovely shade of yellow. Middle: Our beautiful new employers, Kim & Peter Slater. Right: The most awesome travelling buddy a girl could have, Michelle Waples.

Michelle’s father was right, but so was I.

‘Get yourself into a safe and happy context’ and then try being ‘determined and tenacious’.

Over the years I’ve had many struggles when my tightly held beliefs were challenged, but every time the struggle has brought me a new perspective, a new ease and a new wisdom.

I’ve learnt three really beautiful lessons about my beliefs:

1. Beliefs are stubborn and hate the ideal of being changed. So we don’t need to change them when they are challenged if we don’t want to; just looking at the context is enough.

We wouldn’t hold it as a belief if it didn’t serve us in at least one context, so in that respect all of our beliefs are true and useful.

All that we need to bother ourselves with is it’s ability to function harmoniously in the context of our desires. If our beliefs are working in opposition to what we want then maybe it is time to put them aside for a bit until the context changes.

2. Beliefs are powerful and wonderful things but there is even more empowerment and joy to be found when we combine them with another’s. Not just anyone’s, but the one’s that align with the perspective of our heart.

3. Without even knowing it our beliefs can reach out well past our sphere of influence and out past our lifetime.

Michelle’s father will never know how his beliefs contributed positively to my life. Who knows how many thousands of people this one belief of his has, and will continue to bring joy to. Isn’t that cool?

Leanne xx

Post Script:

Unfortunately I’ve lost contact with Michelle, I’m unsure of her married name so have been unsuccessful at tracking her down. On the off chance that anyone reading this does know Michelle (nee Waples) I would greatly appreciate you getting in touch with me below.

Last day of our Golden Summer before returning home.

Left to Right: Michelle and I on the last day of our Golden Summer before returning home.

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10 Awesome Dating Tips We Can Take Away From The Bachelor

I love watching the television show The Bachelor.

I’ve realised that for me it is not too dissimilar to how my partner watches football. I have my favourites that I cheer for; I scream at the television when there’s been foul play and I am left disappointed when attempts to score are thwarted.

And it is as an armchair player at home that I offer my words of wisdom to all of the players. The following are the things that I like to shout at the telly and the real world tips we can take away for dating without the cameras.

1. You’re on a TV Show!

Real World Take Away: Context matters

If you are drinking in a bar when you meet a guy don’t be surprised if he doesn’t notice the full complexity of your personality. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t get how smart and competent you are at work, or how caring and thoughtful you are with your family and friends.

You are in a crowded space, you are drinking, and it’s loud. He is most probably not going to look past how attractive you are to look at to, how much fun you are having and how warm and flirty you are. Not because he is a player, but because it is logistically hard to do otherwise.

Enjoy it for what it is, fun. You don’t need to push against your context by resenting the shallowness of it.

 2. Don’t worry about the other girls!

Real World Take Away: Be Present

He may be dating other women, flirt with another girl at the party after he just met you or have other girls checking him out in a bar; but when he is with you he is with you.

When you are talking with him give him your full and absolute attention. Let go of worrying about anyone else and when he is front of you be in the moment with him. Enjoy your conversation, your interaction and your spark if there is one.

Don’t get caught up by his physical absence, he could be thinking of you when he is on his next date for all you know. So save yourself the energy and don’t concern yourself with it.

Worrying about other girls early on sends our self-esteem the message that he’s the more valuable person in this interaction. Remind yourself of just how much of a catch you are.

3. He gave you a rose for a reason!

Real World Take Away: Stop looking for more signs that he’s into you after he just gave you a sign.

If he tells you that he likes you; that he enjoys your company and he’s looking forward to getting to know you better then believe him. Chill out, relax and trust that it will unfold organically.

And if it doesn’t then he’s not the one for you, so you will be free to move on.

4. Make friends with the other girls!

Real World Take Away: Put your eggs in more than one basket.

New relationships are exciting, whether they are romantic or not. Developing other new relationships whilst you are dating is a great way to mitigate your emotional risk.

This could be a simple as saying good morning to strangers on your way to work, flirting with your local barista, or following through on a planned catch up with someone you clicked with at a party. Create interactions that put a spring in your step.

Don’t let a text message from your new love interest be the biggest highlight of your day. Let it be one of many that make you feel giggly inside.

5. That’s not his mansion or his boat!

Real World Take Away: The life you are currently living is going to look similar to the life that you would live together.

When we are first dating it is so easy to get caught up in all of the exciting and superfluous stuff around our new beau.

We all love to fantasise and that’s great. But if he doesn’t offer you a rose, then don’t morn the loss of this fantastic and glamorous life that you dreamt you could have had together.

He’s just a guy made from the same flesh and blood as you, you would have had similar frustrations with your new Bachelor as you have experienced with all of your ex’s.

The level of glamour and adventure that you live in your own life is totally up to you.

6. Keep your Crazy in a Bottle!

Real World Take Away: Not because you don’t wish to scare him off. I say this to mean if your insecurities are popping up; then be open and let him know rather than unleash upon him out of context.

Give him something to work with; if you are feeling jealous then let him know about it. He may be empathic and supportive or he may not be, but at least you’ve given your relationship the opportunity to see how you navigate these issues together.

If he was tired and frustrated from work for instance, wouldn’t you prefer him to be open with you about it then take it out on you in a confusing context?

7. Be Yourself!

Real World Take Away: You are only one good date away from never dating again.

Dating is a fantastic opportunity to get to know lots of new people who will help you to define what it is you are looking for in a mate as well as your life. Being yourself is going to enrich this process, being what you think your new mate is looking for is only going to take you further from where you want to be.

The best way to be yourself is to be in the moment. As best you can try blocking out your fears and expectations of the future, and your regrets and hurts from the past.

8. He’s not your boyfriend!

Real World Take Away: Respect the men you are dating as people who are on their own journey that has happened to intersect with yours.

Things that you both thought were absolutes in life may now change and shift because of the new information that you have brought to each other. All you need to worry about is right now is, are you enjoying his company?

Dating is nothing more than a ‘toe dip’ of a relationship. By the time you both decide to dive in headfirst your dynamic is going to be very different. So relax and try not to keep a scorecard or a checklist early on. Try not to judge him on paper or from what he or anyone else tells you about him.

Let it develop naturally over a period of time that is reasonable to you, what’s the rush?

9. It’s not his loss! It’s your gain!

Real World Take Away: You were really keen on him but he didn’t give you a rose. It’s not because you’re a lousy prospect, it is because he has seen something about your interaction that you’ve ignored.

He get’s that there is a better match for him elsewhere, and if it’s true for him then it’s true for you too. He has helped you dodge a bullet by ending it before things got serious.

10. This is not the end!

Real World Take Away: Finding Prince Charming and marrying him doesn’t end with a happily ever after in real life so why do so many of us buy into the fairy-tale?

Whether you make it through every rose ceremony and he proposes or you are booted off the show in the first episode, your romantic journey is still going to continue.

Have you ever hit a big goal or milestone in your life and then everything has been smooth sailing from there on in?

Your relationship with your Bachelor is going to have just as many ups and down and just as much good and bad as your current dating life. Now please don’t let me hear you say “Well at least I’ll have someone to help and support me through those challenges, I won’t be on my own.”

You’re not on your own right now; I’d say there are at least 10 people in your life who truly and deeply care about you. Start paying attention to all that you have rather than all that you don’t.

After all, isn’t this the most precious gift that you can offer to your Bachelor? Who wouldn’t want to be with a girl who is appreciative of all that she has, because once the shine wears off you’ll need to make that same effort to appreciate him too.

Enjoy the journey no matter where you are at because your enjoyment of the final rose ceremony will be fleeting. Finding and falling in love with your own Bachelor is a milestone, it’s not your end game.

Leanne xx

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Health & Wellbeing, Relationships, Romantic Relationships, Single Life

How to Get Her to Lose Weight without Losing Her

As a person whose weight has fluctuated substantially over the years I am oh so familiar with the struggle. I’ve chubbed up recently and I’m currently a Chihuahua away from equalling my all time highest record on the scales.

The last time I was here it was under identical circumstances. I was at the beginning point of a completely new list of goals after ticking off my last lot. I’m very much an “in for a penny in for a pound” kind of gal so this has meant big changes in every aspect of my life.

These changes have challenged me and provided me with many opportunities to confront my biggest doubts and fears. And when I freak out I eat; correction, recently when I’ve freaked out I’ve eaten.

It is from this perspective that I write this post for you, for me and for my loving partner who has recently asked “How do I help you with this?”

1. What you need to understand before you begin

  • You can’t ‘get’ anyone to do anything.
  • Her weight is none of your business.

2. Why it is okay to proceed regardless

This process is designed to be unconditionally loving regardless of your motivations. Whether you are driven by your own fears and insecurities or a genuine concern for her good health and wellness; you wish for her to lose weight. There is little to be gained for either of you by you pretending that this is not the case, so why hide how you feel for the sake of being politically correct?

I bring no judgement about your motivations, I’m writing this because I wish to help you navigate your way through in a loving way which doesn’t piss her off, upset her or crush her self esteem.

3. Her reasons

Regardless of what you think or what she has told you, she is carrying her weight for a reason. Not only are they good reasons but they are awesome reasons. Whether her weight has been a comfort, a protection, a support or a shield, it has been of great value to her.

Whilst weight gain as a coping mechanism has many limits and some obviously health costs, it is not the enemy here. It has done everything that it has been asked to do. It has been her way of coping, and it has done its job. It has also provided her with a sign that something is out of balance in her life.

To effect change you don’t need to unravel the specific reasons why the weight has been necessary in her life. You only need to acknowledge that those reasons are a part of who she is; therefore they are important, valid and worth loving.

4. Why do you want her to lose weight?

Years ago I dated a man who thought that it would be helpful to pull at a fat roll on my stomach and tell me “You know something? You would be stunning if you lost some weight”.

Now let us ignore the insensitive nature of these comments and look at them for what they were. They were statements that I allowed because they mirrored my own thoughts about my body. They were also statements projected from a man who had those same insecurities and thoughts about his own body.

His motives limited his ability to offer a solution. He wasn’t able to offer me anything other than critical observations because that was all he knew how to bring to his own struggle.

5. Your weight loss

You may not have a weight issue but there is something that you are struggling with. There is never a time when we are thriving, feeling awesome and kicking goals in all aspects of our life when we bother to stop and notice the flaws and shortcomings of those we love. Never.

There isn’t anything intentionally unloving about wanting the best for our loved ones. Who wouldn’t want their partner to live the very best life that they can and to be healthy and well?

Noticing and caring about the flaws in others helps us to bring love and understanding to our own struggles. In fact I would argue that is one of the key purposes to being in a committed partnership.

So how do we fulfil that key purpose without hurting our loved one and our relationship?

We offer solutions that bring more to the table than the criticisms that our loved ones are offering to themselves.

6. Specifically, what are you hoping to achieve?

As an example let’s say that you’ve lamented how your partner used to be the life of the party and now she’s put on weight you’ve noticed that she holds back, she’s less willing to go out, and she’s lacking in confidence.

In this instance what you are hoping to achieve is for her to regain her confidence in a social context.

When looking at how you’ve perceived her weight to have affected you; maybe you are not feeling as attracted to her as you used to. You are hoping to experience yourself as someone who physically desires their partner.

Activity:

I would encourage you to write out a list of the qualities you are hoping to see in her and experience for yourself once she loses the weight.

7. You are a mirror

You are a mirror from which she sees herself daily. If you were to start offering a new perspective on how you see her and her weight, then doesn’t it make sense that so would she?

I’ll pick up the example of confidence that I gave above. The first thing I’d like to ask you is, how has her lack of confidence benefited you? Some possible examples below;

  • You don’t like big parties and it has meant that you’ve been able to spend more time at home.
  • You’ve had to come out of your shell more to compensate.
  • She’s developed empathy for your quieter moments.
  • She’s become a better listener.

Activity:

Go through your entire list of what you are trying to achieve and look at how her being overweight has benefited you in those areas. Then let her know how much you’ve appreciated those benefits. 

NB: I’d strongly suggest that you leave out any mention of her weight in these appreciations, keep it focused on the benefit.

8. Her positive aspects

Going back to your list of things that you hope to achieve, I’d encourage you to start looking for where those facets of her are currently showing up.

If you are seeing her lack confidence at big parties; then where isn’t she lacking confidence socially? Where is she thriving socially? Who are the people she is with and what are the places where she is completely uninhibited?

Look for those moments, offer her appreciation and positive attention about those moments. The day that you find more examples of her thriving then of her struggling, is the day that you’ll help her to tip the balance in her own perceptions as well.

9. Tell her why she is beautiful

Offer her specific compliments that she can’t dismiss or shrug off.

Be as enthusiastic and adoring of her and her body right now as you would be if she was the dream that you envisage for her.

Why wait until she loses weight to offer her this level of attention, appreciation and affection? There is a lot about her for you to be attracted to right now. Start looking for these things no matter how small they might be at first and then compliment her about them.

10. You don’t need to fix her

She doesn’t need fixing because she isn’t broken.

She doesn’t need ‘to do things’ as much as she needs ‘to stop doing things’. She needs to stop believing that she is anything less than magnificent as she is right now.

Underneath she is exactly the same strong, brave, caring, compassionate, loving, smart, sexy, capable, funny and beautiful woman who you fell in love with.

You don’t need to help her ‘get back’ to that; you only need to help her acknowledge that she still is that. If the both of you could focus more on ‘what she is’ and less on ‘what she’s not’ then you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.

If you really want this, then be the change that you wish to see in her. Keep your focus on just how amazing, beautiful and special she is right now. You tried this approach when you first fell in love with her remember? I’m guessing you weren’t trying to point out her physical shortcomings and ‘tell it like it is’ on your 3rd date? And if you did then allow me to tell it like it is, “You are a fool and you don’t deserve her.”

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Acceptance, Challenging Beliefs, Friendships, Relationships

Why I No Longer Think My Sister Is Perfect

I have long thought that my sister is perfect.

I was going to provide you with a big long list of reasons why she is awesome, but she doesn’t know I’m writing this and she would rightly crack it if she saw that list posted on the World Wide Web. But for the point of the story all you need to know is that I think she’s perfect. Perfect because of the person that she is and because of the type of life that she is living.

So here’s why I no longer think she’s perfect, the 1st reason is because she’s asked me not to; numerous times.

The 2nd reason is, that to call her perfect diminishes the hard work and tough choices that she has made in her life. Her success and happiness hasn’t just happened; she’s put great thought, focus and effort into the type of life that she wants to live and the type of person that she wants to be.

The 3rd reason is that to call her perfect unknowingly makes a judgement upon any struggles or hardships that she may have faced in her life.

A few years ago I caught up for lunch with my best friend and a mutual friend of ours who I hadn’t seen for over 15 years. He had always had a bit of a crush on me and had placed me on a pedestal; which if I’m being honest, I thought was lovely.

He had me on a pedestal because he didn’t know me that well; it is easy never to see the faults of someone you don’t really know. I knew that he wasn’t getting to see the imperfect aspects of me, and truth be told I was deliberate about keeping him at arms length in order to maintain the charade.

As a youngster I always thought that this was a great dynamic to have in my life. To have someone who looked up to me and who thought that I was much more capable than I thought I was.

What I didn’t realise until that lunch was; there was another side to being adored falsely.

It was a lot of pressure for me to live up to, but the heartbreaking side was the realisation that every time he recognised perfection in me, he measured a fault in himself.

When we recognise aspects of people that we admire, that we also see in ourselves, we never refer to them as perfect traits. We don’t use that word because we know from personal experience that we have also exhibited the opposite of that trait in our lifetime.

Perfection is a statement that says that there is no other side. That there is only success without failure, there is only compassion without cruelty, there is only good times without the bad and there is only love without fear. Perfection isn’t real, so holding someone to ideals that don’t exist is never going to bring service to them and it certainly isn’t going to bring good feelings for us.

So there I was at this lunch, with two people who saw me in completely different lights growing up. One thought I was perfect and the other knew me to be an obnoxious, insecure, overconfident dickhead. And my realisation was that I’d take the latter any day.

My best friend knowing all of my flaws and weaknesses had offered me an incredible and loving freedom. She got that I wasn’t perfect which made her appreciation of the great aspects about me even sweeter. She valued me for me, the good as well as the bad.

That lunch immediately had me thinking about how it must have felt for the people who I have placed on a pedestal in my own life.

And there have been so many, I am a serial offender. My father said to me when I was about 10yrs of age

“The problem with you is that you compare your weaknesses to other people’s strengths”.

Not only was he right but it has been a pattern my entire life and one I only recently worked out was connected to my ‘placing people on a pedestal’ thing.

I always thought that the act of being completely one eyed about someone was a loving one, but I now see that it’s not. It offers nothing but fear, and can do nothing other than bring about a feeling of unworthiness for the adorer and a lot of pressure and unloving attention for the adoree.

This brings me to the 4th reason I’ve stopped seeing my sister as perfect, she doesn’t need that discomfort in her life. She needs me to understand that she’s not perfect, and to love and appreciate her regardless. And here’s the kicker, I can’t love and appreciate her wholly unless I love myself like that.

This leads me to my 5th and best reason to stop seeing her as perfect; because it enables me to start seeing the perfect aspects within me in spite of my perceived weaknesses.

Who have you got on a pedestal?

Leanne xx

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Relationships, Romantic Relationships

Loving Letter to my Batshit Crazy Past Self

I was married quite young by today’s standards and had very little idea about who I was or what made me happy.

Early on our marriage became a perfect storm of confusion, anger, fear and hurt. And where that combination builds up to the point that you are no longer in control then the Batshit Crazy is never far behind. I define Batshit Crazy as behaviour that ceases to care about consequences, sacred lines or collateral damage in the pursuit of ‘making the pain go away’.

I often think about that young girl who felt like she was going out of her mind and I am committed to offering her ease about everything that she went through. She was the trailblazer that led me to this point; her instinct to push and fight inspired me to get out and look for another way.

I write this letter for her and for anyone else who has experienced so much confusion, fear, anger and hurt within their relationships that they’ve felt Batshit Crazy.

Dear My Past Batshit Crazy Self,

If you were to write an advertisement for your current relationship I think you’d find it a difficult one to sell.

For Sale: One relationship filled to the brim with misery, arguments, and emotional pain. Includes a critical wife who is starved for affection and an emotionally withdrawn husband who is defeated and broken.

But wait there is more! There is zero joy or fun to be had, that’s right zero! If you call now we’ll also throw in zero appreciation, zero compassion and all the blame you can carry!!!

I know you believe that there are no ‘winners’ from a relationship breaking down, but can you believe me when I tell you that there doesn’t have to be a ‘loser’ either? I encourage you to stop looking for one.

It was never your intention to be cruel or hurtful in your relationship just as it wasn’t his. It just happened, and it happens easily when you love someone without loving yourself. And there is no better way to lose your love for yourself then to focus more on what’s not great about another then on what is great about you.

You don’t need to put your hand up and declare that you are the bad guy here, but making him out to be one isn’t going to work for you either. It just creates another dichotomy for you to struggle against. If he’s so bad then why did you marry him? Let me guess? “He’s changed and he’s no longer the man you fell in love with?”

You are going to find this really hard to hear but the man you are married to isn’t lacking any of the qualities that you need or want. You made a great choice; you always make awesome choices when you follow your heart.

Neither of you has ‘changed’. Your dynamic has changed; but you are both just as capable of expressing as much love, appreciation and compassion as you did when you first got together.

You are two beautiful balls of wool that have gotten so tangled up that you are not expressing those aspects of yourselves right now, but they are still there.

I know; I hear you desperately asking,

“If I love him so much, if he hasn’t ‘changed’ and if he was such a good choice of husband, then why is everything so horrible?”

Deep down you already know the answer to this question, but you don’t like it and that is why you are asking me. And the lovely thing is that by the time you are ready to hear the answer, I promise you’ll no longer care about the question.

The question I’d like to ask you right now is, “Can you put your burning question on hold?” I know it seems really counter intuitive to do so, because for you it seems like the only question of any importance right now.

But I’d suggest that there are far more pressing questions to be answered that will bring you immediate peace, like “What’s great about me?” and “What am I doing to love myself right now?” and finally “Do I love and appreciate myself for the magnificent person that I know myself to be?”

Put your other questions on hold for a bit until the answers to the questions above become a predominate part of your thoughts. This is how you start sorting out your ball of tangled and knotted up wool.

Not his ball. Sorting out his tangles and knots has brought you more tangles and knots. Sort out YOUR ball. Let him know what your intention is, ask him for a little understanding about the space you need.

Get some perspective and see where the threads run. Enlist your friends as support; I said support, not ears to hear how knotty his ball of wools is.  Let them help you to see how beautiful your ball of wool is, let them inspire you of your abilities to untie some of these knots on your own.

Read some books, seek help, ask people how they’ve untied their own knots. Get some hobbies, spend time in the fresh air and sunshine. Exercise, eat delicious food, drink delicious wine, laugh more, go to art galleries, write, paint, take photo’s. Do all of the stuff that you love!

Let all of this help you to see the beauty within your own ball of wool. Let it ease the tension on your knots long enough so that you can untie them and give yourself a chance to hear your own voice again.

The coolest thing that I can tell you is that little inner voice of yours knows exactly how to untangle your ball, and quickly. Listen to it, let it guide you.

My advice to you is to commit to untangle your ball and ‘then’.

  • And ‘then’ decided if this is a relationship you want to be in.
  • And ‘then’ decide what your beliefs are around marriage and divorce.
  • And ‘then’ decide what your next step is.
  • And ‘then’ ask yourself the big questions.

Everything that is fighting inside you, all that Batshit Crazy behaviour is about trying to untangle your wool. Your eventual disentanglement is inevitable but how you go about it is entirely up to you.

You can do it as a couple or on your own; but if it’s not untangling your wool, then it is contributing to your Batshit Crazy behaviour. And why would you want to focus on the stuff that is making you miserable? Let it go for now, you don’t need to bother about any of it right this minute. It’s not going anywhere.

Untangling your wool has zero to do with if he loves you or if you love him, it has zero to do with whose fault it is, where it went wrong or if you ‘should’ be together. It has zero to do with whether or not you are ‘good’ at relationships or are a ‘good’ person. And it also has zero to do with how much you’ve been hurt and how much you’ve hurt him.

You can commit to untangling your ball of wool while you are together, you can cut the strings and end it now, or you can keep pulling until they snap. You cannot get this wrong because no matter what you do all roads lead to a place of disentanglement.

Your instincts will continue to guide you and your inner voice is now much louder so you’ll hear it much sooner. Every time you’ve ignored that voice it has gotten stronger and stronger, the Batshit Crazy has served you as a guiding light. So stop feeling embarrassed about it, everything has been working perfectly. It’s time to start easing up on yourself. You should be proud of all you have done to get to this point; all that you have been through will continue to bless all that you are.

As your future self I know how this story ends, you don’t work through it together and it takes you awhile to tend to your own ball. You’ll understand soon enough that it’s not the tangles that caused the Batshit Crazy in you. It was the distracting thoughts, beliefs and questions that led you away from tending to you own tangles and knots, and this is the stuff that has caused you all of the distress.

The day you made the decision to stop worrying about everyone else’s balls and untangle your own was the day that you took back your power, and it was the day that everything changed for you.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t get tangled or knotted up ever again, you do. The tangles and knots are a part of life and you wouldn’t be you without them. All that changes is that you stop stressing about everyone else’s threads. You finally understand that tangles and knots are OK, because you are perfectly capable of tending to them yourself.

All my Love, Your Future Self xoxo

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Acceptance, Forgiveness, Friendships, Relationships, Romantic Relationships

Batshit Crazy: A Familiar – Letter to my Batshit Crazy Ex

Dear Past Self,

Tricked you didn’t I? Sorry, but to write this letter to our ex would be futile. You couldn’t change or fix him when you were together so how do you imagine I’m going to have some magic solution to do it now?

The reason that I write this letter is because you need to move on and you can’t do that until you stop taking responsibility for his behaviour and well-being. It’s now time to let go of having an opinion about how he is living his life, because it is exhausting you.

Whether you realise it or not you are still trying to fix, help and change him. There have been so many arguments; you’ll tell anyone who’ll listen just how Batshit Crazy he has been behaving and how if he just listened to you more he could avoid a lot of heartache. You read articles and your first thoughts are “he needs to read this, this is what his problem is”, you hear things and you think “that’s the issue that he has”; regardless of how much or how little contact you have with him you are still focused on all that he is ‘not’.

Here’s the thing, that focus isn’t helping either of you. Deep down you’ve always known that it feels safer to try and ‘fix’ and take care of him because it means that you’ll never have the time to do it for yourself. The question I want to ask you is “Now you are not a couple, why do you care so much if he doesn’t get it together?” When you were first together you didn’t seem to perceive him as being as broken as you do now. Are you really trying to ‘fix’ him or have you been avoiding ‘fixing’ yourself?

I know that this makes you very uncomfortable, but it’s not something you need to be afraid of any more. Lots of people in your life know that you are not perfect and guess what, they love you anyway. You love loads of non-perfect people too; in fact the only person in this world who you don’t love because they are not perfect is you.

Your ex is acting Batshit Crazy right now because he is very hurt, confused and angry…but so are you. You have managed to keep some control over your emotions so it looks very different but it is the same, you both haven’t been coping. He screams, rants and loses control and you withdraw, pull away and control.

Controlling? Me? You know what I’m talking about, when you give him your stern schoolteacher voice to instruct him “Please don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking or this conversation will have to end” is only something you do because you know drives him crazy. You constantly pointed out his faults and you set yourself up as the authority, in your world you were always right and he was always wrong.

I’m not judging your choice of tools here, I don’t think you’re an arsehole, I don’t think there are any arseholes in this story; you were just two people trying to do their best in a highly emotional situation. Why wouldn’t you retaliate when he flipped out? It’s a scary thing to deal with, and imagine the mess that it would have turned into if you didn’t have a clear vision of what you thought was happening and if you didn’t try to control it? My point is the two of you were in it together; you both were and are struggling to cope.

Whether you like it not your ex in still in your life and that may or may not change soon. But this uncomfortable, frustrating and undesired situation is offering you the greatest opportunity for growth that you’ve had in years. This challenge holds him at its centre but the benefits will mostly be yours; I urge you to start focusing on the things about him that you’d like to see.

Remember we are talking about a person who you fell in love with and at one point you thought he was so together that you decided to partner up with him. Start focusing again on that, I get that this was a challenge that you couldn’t meet when you were together, so why would it be any different now?

Here’s why, because now the middleman is gone. He is out of the equation so now you have the time and the space to start to redefine how you see him and more importantly how you see yourself. Remember how you used to feel? Remember how capable, loving and happy you used to be?

You’ve complained for years about how you are always there for others and how desperately you crave for someone to do the same for you. You now have the time and the space to be that person for you.

You can let go of worrying about him; it has taken up so much of your precious energy and has offered you zero returns. I’m not suggesting that you stop caring about him; I’m suggesting that you stop the worry.

I appreciate how terribly hard this is to do so I suggest that you start really small. Whenever he behaves in a way that is Batshit Crazy tell yourself a new story, tell the story so it it offers you some relief.

“I know that I fallen into his Batshit Crazy world at times and I have reacted in ways that have added fuel to the fire and which has made me feel more upset. I also know that how he behaves is none of my responsibility. His behaviour has never made me feel unsafe but I have surrounded myself with support and a plan in the event that it gets anywhere near that point.

I’ve taking back control of how I feel and I have the power to choose the emotions that I respond with. I no longer allow him to choose the emotions I feel by reacting to his behaviour. To do this I am going to step back and pay attention to what he is trying to achieve through his behaviour. I am also going to focus on the positive aspects of him in order to maintain the good feeling life that I wish to live.

When I step back I know he is only acting this way because he is feeling very hurt, confused and angry. I know that he wants to feel better and that he’s not sure how.

He’ll work it out, and I look forward to the day that he feels really good again, but I release my worry about that. I’m going to try and remember him as the person that I fell in love with. I’m not going to do this because I think that it will fix or help him but because it is going to make me feel better. And when I’m feeling good there is nothing that I can’t handle.

When we get stuck on things and I find him to be unreasonable I’m going to ask myself the question “Does it really matter if I let go and let him have his way on this?”

I’m going to stop engaging with him about who’s right or wrong, I’m going to let go and let him ‘win’ if it means more peace and happiness in my own life. I know there is lots of things that he is fighting for that he doesn’t care about, he just cares that he doesn’t ‘lose’. I can understand this response from him, nobody likes to feel like they are losing something.

I’m going to cease being a resistant force that he can push against, I’m going to let as much flow over me as possible. I’m focused on the end game, not the nitty gritty of all of this. I get that there are no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ here. There is only ‘happy and peaceful’ or ‘sad and tumultuous’ and I choose the former.

Right now I don’t have a lot of great things to say about him and that’s OK. I know that I used to think that he was a good person. I know that some of his family and friends who I like and respect as well as our kids really love him so I’m going to try to focus on what they see in him. Until then it feels much better to have no expectations of him.

I know I can’t live the joyous fulfilling life that I desire for myself if I’m focused on all of the negatives in my life. So on the days that I struggle to see any positives in him I’m going to refrain from dwelling on any thoughts about him at all, I’m going to keep the focus on the good stuff in my life.

I’m improving all of the time and there are lots of things that I can be appreciative for. It makes me feel empowered and energised when I focus on these things.

Life is starting to feel really good again, everything is going to work out just fine for me: it always does.”

Lots of love from your Future Self
xoxo

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